Therizinosaurus has been an intriguing
puzzle for scientists ever since several huge claws were first
discovered in 1948. Although there was not enough fossil material to
determine its appearance, the claws were so unique that they had to be
from a new species. Maleev named it Therizinosaurus
cheloniformis in 1954.
Around ten years later another large claw was found, but this time
along with other fossils, including a tooth, parts of the front and
rear limbs and even a four-toed foot. They gave paleontologists enough
material to get a fairly good idea of the animal's body. No
skull had yet been found to provide material for head reconstruction.
A series of finds in Mongolia in the late 1980?s showed that huge
arms that had been previously attributed to
Deinocheirus, actually belonged to the same group as the huge
claws and strange bones attributed to Therizinosaurus. Parts of
the pelvis and other bones were also found, which gave paleontologists
an even better look at what was shaping up to be the strangest dinosaur ever
to walk the earth.
had a small head, a long neck, short tail and a large body. It was so
bulky that it could not have been a very fast runner. Its most
distinctive feature was gigantic claws on its front limbs. They
were nearly three feet long.
The feeding habits of Therizinosaurus
are still debated, but it was most probably an herbivore, using its
big manual claws to push leaves into its mouth.
While the claws were very long, they were not sharply curved. In
cross section, they were quite thin. Some scientists think they were
used to tear open termite mounds. Therizinosaurs had a fairly long
neck, small head, and teeth that could have been used to eat plants.
The family previously known as segnosaurs is now named after this